Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 24, 2010.


A biologist, an industrial designer, and an engineer team up and build a “Hello, World!” kit to teach high schoolers how to invent with DNA.

Hello, World! Let's get started teaching students the code of life at a price that public schools can afford.

Scientists are using DNA to make complex living machines, create cures for the world's worst diseases, and heal damage to our environment. But, as biologists, we’ve done a horrible job getting young people excited about the promise of biotechnology. A big reason for this is that we are doing a poor job introducing this science to students. Kids don’t get to see how biologists invent and discover using DNA until they take advanced biology courses at the university level; students who don’t want to commit to becoming biologists never get to experience how exciting the science can be, and for that reason, most students are never taught how biotechnology works at all.

At Otyp we've created a program that brings biotechnology to life for students. This program gives them hands-on experience with research and educates them about the power of DNA, enabling students to get excited about the amazing biotechnology breakthroughs being made every day.

Our project is designed to give students a first glimpse at the tools used in modern biotechnology. By performing the same techniques that were used to generate recombinant insulin to treat diabetics and make transgenic animals to study cancer, but on a standardized, introductory level, students can learn the basics of how biotechnology is done, so that they can start to think about how they can use those tools to create and experiment themselves.

It’s like a “Hello, World!” computer programming tutorial, but for biotechnology.

The biotech hardware and supplies produced today are too expensive for high schools' tight budgets. For our lab course, Cloning a Fluorescent Gene, to be affordable, we are reducing costs to schools:
(1) by distributing Cloning a Fluorescent Gene’s hybrid textbook and lab manual under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license, so that teachers can download, print, and distribute the textbook at no cost
(2) by renting out equipment that would cost schools an initial investment of more than $6000 for $300 per school. This is the first time that a company has offered to do this, and it currently the only way to get these expensive research tools to fit into schools’ tight budgets
(3) by developing an industry-sized 96-well open source PCR machine (Thermotyp), a tool that is the foundation for manipulating DNA that until now has cost $3500. This will give us a low cost machine that can accommodate the experiments from multiple classes, which we can then use to make our equipment rentals even more affordable.

The combination of these strategies will allow us to produce Cloning a Fluorescent Gene, a high-level biotech laboratory course, for about the same price as existing, dull high school lab kits.

To convince teachers that more complex, more exciting laboratories are worth the investment, we need your help to show teachers what it feels like to have their students BE biologists, instead of just learning about them. Using your backer dollars and the SPEAK SCIENCE Fund, we are going to send Cloning a Fluorescent Gene kits for free to schools around the US, so that teachers and students alike can experience the excitement of learning real science for themselves. For every $600 that backers contribute, one school will receive a full Cloning a Fluorescent Gene lab kit, including a leased PCR machine and pipettes, and everything else they’ll need. The school can try the kit, no strings attached, at no cost to them, sponsored by you, their community members, our backers. (All backers will have the opportunity to nominate a school of their choice that they would like to receive the kit.) Once teachers see how excited students get when they do real experiments, creating their own genetically engineered bacteria, we know that teachers will make Cloning a Fluorescent Gene a part of their annual curriculum.

With your help, we can build a world where everyone can SPEAK SCIENCE.

Check out our Lab Manual for Cloning a Fluorescent Gene

Lots more detailed information about the project

Pictures and descriptions of the prizes and the SPEAK SCIENCE Fund

Follow us on Twitter: @otyp

More information about Thermotyp, our Open Source PCR Machine

Media Coverage

Make Magazine:

Huffington Post:


Singularity Hub:

Testimonials (back then we were called Peyer Laboratory Systems)


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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    20 backers

    We'll add you to the list of people we think are awesome on the gen.otyp website. Your dollar will go into the SPEAK SCIENCE Fund, and you'll be eligible to nominate a school to receive a Cloning a Fluorescent Gene laboratory course! See our project description for details.

  • Pledge $15 or more
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    8 backers

    We'll mail you some gnarly Otyp decals that Kyle dreamed up with his mad design skills.

  • Pledge $25 or more
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    39 backers

    A sweet Otyp "SPEAK SCIENCE" t-shirt (via American Apparel), so you can show your Open Source Bio pride.

  • Pledge $40 or more
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    29 backers

    SPEAK SCIENCE Tee, the decals, and make it onto our Acknowledgements list in the Cloning a Fluorescent Gene Lab Manual (found on our website). Every student who does the lab will have a book with your name in it. Immortalize yourself in Biotech Education History. All donations above this are also acknowledged in the Manual.

  • Pledge $100 or more
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    12 backers

    A 24"x36" high quality poster depicting the coolest fluorescent bio-art made with Cloning a Fluorescent Gene. Plus a shirt!

  • Pledge $125 or more
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    2 backers

    One of three sizes of pipettes for your bio tinkering needs: P20, P200, or P1000.

  • Pledge $300 or more
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    2 backers

    A full set of 3 pipettes for doing bio research.

  • Pledge $400 or more
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    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    Get one of ten Thermotyp alpha kits (our open source, 96 well PCR machine), scheduled for release in November.  This is the least expensive, quickest route to becoming a bio-engineer. And a shirt.

  • Pledge $600 or more
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    2 backers Limited (13 left of 15)

    Give a school the gift of biotechnology. We'll send any school you choose a Cloning a Fluorescent Gene kit, and let the school borrow a PCR machine and full set of pipettes from us, so that they don't need any special equipment! When the school does the kit, we'll assemble the bio-art that the students make into a special "Thank You" collage and send you a personalized poster. Furthermore, backers above this level will be acknowledged on the inside cover of the Lab Manual, along with the authors.

  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Donate a Thermotyp beta to the school of your choice (sporting a plaque with your name). The school will also get a set of pipettes. You'll get a gold anodized, engraved PCR block with your name, the year, and the school's name to commemorate your donation.  Or keep the machine for yourself!

  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    Same as $1000, but we throw in a fully configured Netbook computer to run the Thermotyp, and the school gets a Cloning Fluorescent Gene kit, and we let them use our pipettes so that each student can experience biotechnology.

Funding period

- (66 days)